Global life expectancy has increased to 71.4 years

The WHO warns that major inequalities still exist, depending on where a child is born

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File photo. Image: ALBERTO PELLASCHIAR / AP/Press Association Images

The World Health Organisation has said that life expectancy across the world continues to grow - but warns that major inequalities still exist.

The figures show that global life expectancy for children born in 2015 was 71.4 years - or 73.8 years for women and 69.1 years for men. There was a five year increase in the average between 2000 and 2015.

The organisation points out that while newborns in 29 countries of high income have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more, it decreases to less than 60 years in 22 sub-Saharan African countries.

Women in Japan have the highest life expectancy at 86.8 years, while Swiss men survive for an average of 81.3 years. The lowest life expectancy is in Sierra Leone - 50.8 years for women and 49.3 years for men.

In Ireland, the average life expectancy is 81.4 years.

Image: WHO

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, said: “The world has made great strides in reducing the needless suffering and premature deaths that arise from preventable and treatable diseases. But the gains have been uneven.

"Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no-one is left behind," she added.

Figures from the CSO last month showed the scale of life expectancy growth in Ireland.

Life expectancy at birth here increased from under 58 years in 1925-27 for both men and women to 78.4 years for males and 82.8 years for females in 2010-2012.